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Seared Duck Breast with Zinfandel-Braised Red Cabbage

Lean and juicy Muscovy duck yields more meat than other domestic duck breeds. Much of its fat is rendered during searing, which turns the skin deliciously crisp. Zinfandel’s big, ripe flavors work well for braising red cabbage, turning it soft, sweet and mellow. Other full-bodied red wines, such as Syrah or Merlot, can also be used.

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless Muscovy duck breast halves, trimmed of excess fat  
  • Salt, to taste, plus 1/2 tsp.  
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste 
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced  
  • 2 cups Zinfandel  
  • 1 red cabbage, about 1 3/4 lb., thinly sliced  
  • 3 Tbs. balsamic vinegar 
  • 1 Tbs. firmly packed brown sugar 
  • 1 tsp. coriander seeds 

Directions:

Season the duck breasts with salt and pepper. Heat a large fry pan over high heat until hot. Add the duck, skin side down, and cook, without turning and pouring off the fat as needed, until well browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the duck, skin side up, to a baking sheet and set aside.

Pour off all but about 1 Tbs. of the fat in the fry pan and reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion and the 1/2 tsp. salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the wine, cabbage, vinegar, sugar, coriander and several grindings of pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is tender, about 1 hour.

About 40 minutes before the cabbage is done, preheat an oven to 400°F.

Transfer the duck to the oven and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 130°F for medium-rare, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer the duck to a cutting board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Season the cabbage with salt and pepper. Slice the duck, removing the skin if desired, and serve immediately with the cabbage. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Eat Well, by Charity Ferreira (Oxmoor House, 2008).